One reason the Magic don’t like the Celtics is because the Celtics are clearly the better team. A 2011 playoff series between these two might not go as long as the six games it took Boston to oust Orlando last spring. That’s becoming more obvious with every passing game.
But it didn’t appear that way at the outset today. The Celtics started poorly with Dwight Howard (28 points, 13 rebounds total; 22 and 6 of that in the first half) scoring early and often in the post against Kendrick Perkins. On the other side of the ball, Boston couldn’t make a shot, finishing up the first quarter at 29% from the field with 7 turnovers.
Then came the second quarter and the Celtics locked in on both sides of the ball and slowly sapped Orlando’s resistance over the remaining three quarters, culminating in a barely contested last five minutes of the fourth. Rajon Rondo took the ball to the basket with authority, finishing with a season-high 26 points, including 7-9 from the free throw line. The entire Celtics team followed his lead, getting to the line 34 times and converting 28 makes. Perk got shut out but had 13 rebounds and became more and more effective on Howard as the day progressed. And Orlando’s three-point shooting was abysmal, as they went only 3-24 from the arc. Even D12 can’t make up for that kind of ineptitude.
Of course, the win itself remains secondary to the Marquis Daniels injury. Daniels turned to go to the basket in the second quarter and jammed his neck into Gilbert Arenas’ chest. He collapsed, laid immobile for a few minutes and was eventually taken off the court on a stretcher and transported to hospital with an unspecified neck injury. It was a stomach-turning moment, in large part because the play was so innocuous.
UPDATE: Daniels is expected to miss 1-2 months with what is being called a bruised spinal cord. More information is expected on his status tomorrow.
A full recap of this one later on tonight.